Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1997
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 3: Disruptive Truths of God’s Kingdom
Chapter 6: Rise and Reign of David: The Disruptive Truth of Messianic Leadership
Lesson 64 – Background for Kingship in Israel – Deuteronomy 17
02 Oct 1997
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
Let’s go to the worksheet, I want to use this as a review; the first one is to match the doctrines with the events. Again I emphasize we’re trying to train you to think in terms of actual history as well as the content of Scripture. If you don’t do this, you wind up thinking of what you read in the Bible as some sort of religious story, and if you keep thinking in terms of the Bible as just a religious story, what’s going to happen is you isolate it from the real world; it just happens. That’s why we compartmentalize the Bible, we have a little religious story over here and the rest of life is over there, and the two never meet. That’s not the way God spoke into history. If you think about it and think about the Bible vs. other religions of the world, just think how much of the Bible contains history, and how little of it is really didactic, i.e., like the New Testament epistles, etc. That’s a very small portion of the Bible. We know that a lot better than the rest of the Bible because most preachers preach it, a lot of preachers do it because they’re too lazy to study history, but we won’t go into professional secrets.
The point is that the Bible weighted by volume is very history centered, and we need to understand why it’s that way. Why does the Bible tell stories that are firmly rooted into history? For example, in the New Testament Luke did not have to say as he does, that in the thus and such reign of Tiberius such and such happened. Why did Luke deliberately lock in what he was talking about to the calendar? Why does John the apostle, as he writes the Gospel of John say that “on the evening of Passover,” Jesus did this? Why does he lock it into a day and a season? Because God is saying that He is real and He works in history all around us. Why does Noah say that the sign of his covenant is the rainbow that everybody can still observe? Because he wants us to understand that the God of the Scripture is the Lord of history.
What this does, it relaxes us because we know who’s in final charge. When the chaos gets high level, the only calming influence you have is it puts your roots somewhere, and the only root we’ve got is God Himself. This is so tremendously important because it literally applies in every area of life. The non-Christian at this point has nothing, absolutely nothing analogous to the God of Scripture. There is no root in chaos other than illusions, other than idolatrous illusions. There is no other root. So you have a choice of building your life on the God of Scripture and His sovereign control and omnipotence or on some sort of a manufactured illusion. When you build your life on manufactured illusions, finally you pay consequences for that.
Again, looking at the worksheet we’re trying to match the events to the doctrines. What does creation show? It shows the nature of the Creator, so that teaches about who God is. If you think about it, the great creeds of the church all begin with “I believe in God the Father who created the heavens and the earth.” All the creeds of history do that except the modern creed, in our hymn book the modern creed wipes the whole thing out and puts Jesus first. Evidently the modern people know more about the progress of theology than the older people did, or even the writers of Scripture, because in the Bible it’s the God who made heaven and earth that comes first, not Jesus.
The creation tells us about God. What does the fall tell us about? Suffering and evil. The flood reveals an act of God, it was a judgment but He also saved people, and there is a primary picture of what judgment and salvation look like. You’ll notice that it frees you from thinking of salvation purely in psychological terms of what’s going on inside. I dare say that in the judgment/ salvation of the flood a lot was going on outside. So when God works He works in toto. The new world covenant of Noah is basically the foundation of civilization as we know it. Civilization as we know it with the divine institution of government added is in the new world covenant, so we have man, divine institutions, which also come out of the creation, because when God created Adam He created marriage, etc. The Exodus was a picture of God’s acts in history, He judged and He saved, same thing. Therefore, again is the doctrine of judgment/salvation. You want to look at these pictures so when you read these narratives you’re seeing depicted in the story the doctrine, the truth. The call of Abraham shows God chose Abraham out of all the races, languages, and everything else to do a program with Him. Therefore if He chose him we have the doctrine of election.
We have Mt. Sinai, God speaks from Mt. Sinai, He reveals His law. Here we have probably well over a million or so people out in the middle of the Sinai Peninsula, and I showed you slides of Jebel Musa which most people think is Mt. Sinai. If you stand with your back to Jebel Musa and photograph out to the west, you see there’s a big amphitheater valley there. In your mind’s eye, when the people heard God speak and He literally put the fear of God in them, you can see how it happened because He was speaking and the voice of God’s Word must have just ricocheted off of these big cliffs for miles. This is a crucial concept because liberal theology, modern theology today cannot accept revelation. They do not believe there was ever anything called public revelation, i.e., by public revelation we mean that millions of people gathered at the foot of Mt. Sinai and heard God speak, such that if they had a tape recorder they could have taped it in Hebrew. That’s what we mean by revelation.
What the modern theologian does and what the liberal clergy do, when they talk about revelation, they’re not talking about that. They’re using the word but not the meaning. What they mean is that Moses thought these things up under perhaps the inspiration of God, it was all just Moses thought about it and the people received it as Moses’ word. That’s not what the narrative says. The narrative says God publicly spoke, so you could tape record Him speaking in the Hebrew language. So Mt. Sinai is connected with revelation; it’s also connected with inspiration of Scripture, it’s the beginning of the Scripture and the beginning of the Canon, the set of books. Scripture is rooted in that event. That event is a test case to publicly show the process God uses to reveal Himself.
Finally the conquest and settlement is the issue of holy war. It is a very controversial part of the Bible because in that part of the Bible you have cruelty and you have all kinds of things happening there. It’s critical to get this, because people get apologetic and sometimes if you get yourself a little embarrassed about the violence in Scripture here; it’s there, you can’t deny there’s violence in the Scripture. There’s even cruelty in the Scripture. If you judge what happened in the conquest and settlement by modern rules, it was cruel and unusual punishment, no question about it. How do we resolve this problem? If we go back to the diagram of good and evil, if we are a non-Christian and if we deny Scripture or we treat its authority in a cavalier fashion and dismiss it, we are left with this picture. There is no question about it, the only alternative you have to believing the Bible and accepting the biblical story is to accept this as an option. This is the only other alternative you’ve got. This option says that good and evil, sorrow, sickness, death, pain, suffering, goodness and evil together exist forever, they’re never separated. This is why in the Orient your oriental religions early on had to cope with this problem, if good and evil are always there, and if we say, for example, believe in reincarnation, the cycles, etc., the problem is you never escape evil, and that’s why the ultimate escape in oriental religion is into the nirvana where you go into sort of a spiritual suicide of nonexistence, and they call that salvation. They have to, because that’s the only way you can get rid of evil; if you’re conscious you’re conscious of good and evil, so what’s the solution to get separated from evil? Become unconscious. So before we laugh at the Bible, the burden is on the other side who don’t believe the Bible.
Let’s look at the Bible. The Bible says that God created and that later on there was a fall, whether this is the distance between the creation of Satan and the fall of Satan or the creation of Adam and the fall of Adam, we’re not concerned with which, we’re just concerned with the fact that God creates and there’s a fall, and there’s a space between them in time, so that we now know that the universe and every creature in it could have existed in a non-evil environment. Evil is not a necessity for existence. On a non-Christian basis evil is a necessity of existence; there is no existence conceivable without death. Think about the evolutionary process. Evolution believes in creation through death and struggle. The Bible doesn’t. The Bible says God speaks and His creative word was free from death, there was no death, there was no agony, there was no pain in the creation process. It was instantaneous and joyful; the angels sang at creation. That’s the biblical story. The two are different. We have this space.
Then we have a period of history from the fall to the point in time when good and evil coexist, but the difference is that this time period is bracketed. It is not bracketed on any non-Christian basis. That is absolutely unique to the Bible. No one else ever in the history of the world has a boundary on evil, NO one. Only in the Bible do we have a fall and a termination. That is unique. So that structure sets up the scene for why we have cruelty and violence when God judges, because what God is going to do, He is not going to let things stay this way, He is going to intrude in history and separate good from evil. That’s His surgery, and it’s violent surgery. That’s the basis for sanctification in the Christian life; that’s the basis for the gospel. Everything associated with the gospel, salvation, sanctification, the struggles of the Christian life and ultimately the resurrection from the dead have to do with that process, separating good from evil. It’s God’s way of dealing with the problem finally and totally and comprehensively, and it is painful. But keep in mind, if we say “how come God allows this,” because when God created evil wasn’t there, evil is not a product of His creation, evil is a product of us, evil is an ecological disturbance on a cosmic scale of rebellion.
When we come to conquest and settlement and we see cruelty; the reason we see cruelty and holy war in the Bible is because the holy wars are a fore taste of the ultimate judgment God will reign upon the earth. Israel was called to execute judgment against a subset of the human race called Canaanites. These people God had allowed for 300 years to apostacize ever more deeply. They became rooted in evil, tremendously and powerfully, to the point they became demonically controlled. They were a terminal population, a terminal generation. God allowed them to develop over 300 or 400 years so that when Israel came into the land they would eliminate them, and by eliminate them we have to admit they were to kill men, women, children, dogs, cats and everything else, but to leave the trees, the vineyards, and the farm lands alone. It’s a very powerful thing in the Scriptures. When we see that instead of backing off from it, instead of apologizing for it, we can’t any more apologize for that than we can the six days of creation, they are there in the Scriptures. If we’re going to be intellectually honest we accept that, move on and see why; God has a reason why He sets things up this way. The conquest and settlement is a picture of sanctification. Sanctification isn’t just feeling good, it’s not a question of mental self-improvement, it has to do with the cosmic theme here. There’s big stakes going on, not just your personal private Christian life. There’s a universal cosmic thing that’s going on in your life and you’re connected and plugged into that through Jesus Christ and His work.
On the worksheet we come to some key ideas, and I stress these because these come up again and again and they’re going to come up in the lesson tonight, so this is review. Let’s take the first idea, the idea of covenant. What’s the nearest thing to a covenant in the everyday business world? A contract. We all know what contracts are. How many here would buy a house, or a car, or any other large purchase without a contract? Why do you want a contract when you buy a house, car, etc? Because you want some legal leverage if something goes wrong, you want some guarantees. A contract is a setup to monitor the behavior of the parties to that contract. If you agree to buy a house or you agree to sell a house, the seller and the buyer agree to certain behavior. The seller is going to get out of the house at such and such a date, the buyer has these rights; he’s going to turn over such and such money, etc. The contract anchors and controls, and acts as a yardstick on human behavior and conduct. Isn’t it striking, here’s another uniqueness of Scripture, there is not another religion on the planet in which God made a contract. You cannot find that in any other religion outside of the Bible. There is no religion on earth that binds their God to a written contract except the Scriptures.
Let’s look at it from God’s point of view. Why do you suppose, since He initiated contracts… by the way, the first contract mentioned in the Scripture is the new world contract in Noah’s day, the second contract mentioned in the Scripture, the contract with Abraham. The third contract was given at Mt. Sinai with the nation Israel. There was one other contract, it was part of that contract with Israel called the Palestinian Covenant, we skipped it because you can’t cover everything but it’s there. So these are contracts. What do we call the Bible? It’s the Old Testament and New Testament. Is a testament a contract? Absolutely. Ironically the very name of the Book we hold in our laps testifies to its covenantal structure. Why do we have the covenantal structure? Why did God pick this? Because He’s the one that initiated it, not man. It was He who said I will make a covenant with you Noah, and that was the beginning of the covenants. God, at a point in time, agrees that He will do certain things. This is the Abrahamic Covenant, and it’s also the Palestinian Covenant, it’s the Davidic Covenant and the New Covenant.
The Abrahamic Covenant has three provisions: I will promise you an everlasting seed, so there will be a miraculous descent from Abraham throughout history; second, I will give you a land, third, more or less as a result, you will be for all the world a worldwide blessing. Each of these three provisions is amplified. The land promise is amplified in the Palestinian Covenant which we skipped but basically the Palestinian Covenant says that in spite of what Israel does, she will wind up in the land, she will repent in the future and be led back to the land, it’s in the back part of Deuteronomy. The seed promise has to do with the Davidic Covenant. The blessing upon all the nations has to do with the New Covenant. All three provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant are amplified in these other three covenants that God makes. So what, why does God operate this way, why do we have in the Bible God says I will do this, this, this, and this? Then we have a period of time which can be centuries, it could be a life time, it could be millennia. What’s happening over that time interval? If you have a covenant at the beginning of the time interval, what’s the time interval showing? Behavior, and that’s the power of seeing this in the Scripture.
Look what it does for you. With just this one idea look at what you’ve captured. With this one idea, that God makes a covenant at this point in time and He dares men to see His faithfulness, He promises He will do certain things in history that are beyond any human comprehension, that are beyond human power, beyond human planning. And He pulls them off, He pulls off the stunt of growing a people called the nation Israel. He pulls off the stunt of getting them into the land. He pulls off the everlasting seed promise in a way that blows everybody’s mind, totally in a surprising fashion. He pulls off the idea that all nations can be saved through Jesus Christ. All of these are not random acts. They are all contained in the covenantal controls on God’s behavior.
Look at how much God condescends to show His character to us in the Bible. All those stories, when you open the Bible you see so and so begat so and so, so and so begat so, oh gee, what’s all this in here. Or you get into Reuben goes into the land from this city to this city to this city, wow, deeply spiritual passage. Why are these passages like that in the Bible? They are survey logs. Why do you care what Reuben went into? What is that fulfilling? What did He promise to do? Bring them into the land. What is He recording? They went into the land He gave them, from this city to this city to this city. In some of those passages He even measures it for you. Why does He have the stories of the birth and death of the kings, and all the adventurous stories like the wicked Queen Jezebel, who comes in and she almost eradicates the lineage of the dynasties? It builds suspense. At one point the entire monarchy depends on a six year old boy surviving, because priests hide him in a back room in the temple, because the guards, the police and the soldiers are out to kill him. They want the dynasty ended. But God said the dynasty will remain forever, and a six-year-old boy at one point is hidden away by the priests, and he grows up and reigns on the throne of Israel, and the lineage continues.
Why are these stories here? To show behavior. Why do we want to show behavior? What’s the issue behind that? The issue here is to show whose behavior? God’s behavior. And that gives us assurance of our faith; faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. When I see my God make those footprints in the course of historical time, it becomes easier and easier for me to trust Him with the details of my life. If you go from the larger to the smaller it’s better than going from the smaller to the larger. Reverse the process, get the big picture from the Scriptures, and then come down to the little deals in your life.
That’s the key idea of the covenant form of God’s revelation: because it revealed His faithfulness. When He says He is going to something, as Abraham said, “He is faithful to do that which He has promised.” What implications follow about the truthfulness of the Bible regarding historical events? What is the automatic implication, if the Bible is a covenant and to prove behavior you need legal evidence, such that if God, as it were, were brought to trial, which His behavior is because Satan is always accusing God, and there is a cosmic trial going on and it will go on until the end times when the case will be closed. Is God or is God not guilty of following His Word and being a totally just God? All mouths will be stopped because He will demonstrate His total, complete, 100% faithfulness, over against the most ingenious prosecuting attorney ever created. The word “Satan” means prosecuting attorney. Satan has tried to prosecute God and cause Him to admit that He’s violated His Word at some point, either here, there, or somewhere else. Read it in Job, chapter 1, how he’s picking, picking away, picking away at God’s character, always picking away at God’s character, it’s always God’s fault, never my fault, God’s fault, God made me this way, blah, blah, blah. This is always the satanic theme.
What, then, is the implication regarding the events of the Scriptures? When we read that Reuben went into a land and the cities were here, here, here and here, why do we care about those details? What happens if those details are wrong? What happens if we have historical errors in the Scripture? What happens in this cosmic trial? We’ve got contaminated evidence, the evidence is no good. What does any lawyer do in court to a witness? He tests him, he is trying to get the witness to trip because if he can get the witness to say well gee, maybe I was wrong there, he can say aha, we don’t have an infallible witness, if he was wrong there he might be wrong here, where my client’s claim is at stake. So you have to have infallible evidence to make it work. That’s why we fundamentalists believe in the infallibility of Scripture. It’s not because we fell on our head in a store front some place, this stuff is built into the very structure of Scripture. We didn’t make this up. Every great church father has believed in inerrancy, Augustine, John Wesley, Martin Luther, John Calvin, you name it, read what they said, they all believed in biblical inerrancy. The only fools that don’t believe in it are the people that live in the 20th century who go around claiming they’re Christians, but they don’t believe the Bible. So the covenant idea is structurally necessary.
The other thing we want to emphasize is man is made in God’s image. We made a big deal out of this; this is a key because it shows the unique nature of man. God has certain characteristics, He is sovereign, He’s righteous, He’s just, He’s loving, this is just one breakdown of the attributes, there’s a myriad more, Charnock wrote a great 2-volume set. He goes through all the attributes of God. We also know that God is omniscient, omnipresent, He’s eternal, and He’s immutable. So He’s all powerful, He’s everywhere, He’s eternal, in space and time. These are the attributes of God; this is the nature of our God.
The Bible says that man is made in God’s image. What does that mean? For one thing it means that the creature over here, there is one creature called man who shares analogues to these attributes. The analogy in our life to God’s sovereignty is human choice. When we exercise our “choose-er,” we are exercising a faculty that is our analogy to His sovereignty. It’s not identical to it, it’s analogous to it, it’s a finite version of it. That sense of conscience in our life is the finite analogue to His holiness.
When we experience love in the human fashion, it’s only a finite replica of His love. His love differs from our love in at least one major aspect; God is free to love totally because He’s never afraid of anything. He’s totally unthreatened, and that frees Him to love because nobody can mess with Him. But in our case we’re vulnerable, so when we go to love it has certain boundaries on it, we only go so far because we get to a point and we’re concerned about our security. So human love has certain limits to it; God’s love doesn’t. God is omniscient, He knows all things and we know some things, what we call human knowledge. So we have this analogy, we are made analogously to God. If we weren’t, we couldn’t talk, couldn’t carry on a conversation, couldn’t be saved, couldn’t fall. The gospel really doesn’t concern our cats and hamsters; it concerns that creature which is made in God’s image, man. This is the connection between God and man; this is why we can have a personal relationship with Him.
Let’s go to one of the problems in the worksheet, a common problem, you’ll run into this in your own family, maybe in your own life, the same kind of principle at least. Your month-old baby dies from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. This is the precipitating incident. You experience passionate anger toward God, aversion to even reading the Bible, and withdraw from other believers who try to quote verses to you. What biblical doctrines essentially apply and what pathway do you use to settle the matter between Him and you based upon these doctrines. This is a battle that goes on in your head when these kinds of shocks come into the system. We’ve all lived through some degree of this kind of thing, and if you haven’t, get prepared because it’s going to happen so you might as well learn how to respond to these sorts of shocking things that can happen in your life, and not fall apart, and act like some non-Christian would. We want to understand; how do we respond to these kinds of things. We go back and we say to ourselves, wait a minute, what do I know about the nature of God, He’s in charge of this whole thing.
So I go back and I start thinking this thing through, not all at once. The first thing you want to remember about all this is the best thing Satan can do to you is to perform a spiritual frontal lobotomy, because if he can get you not thinking, if he can get you emoting to the point where your emotions are overriding every thought in your head, he’s got you, you’re a disaster case, you’re a casualty because he’s won the battle. God speaks. You have to think, when somebody speaks to you there is the emotional side of the word but there’s content to the Word. He’s spoken to us and He’s gone in great depths to deal with this whole issue of suffering, sorrow, heartache, etc. So we have to say to ourselves, let’s think through this. The baby dies, innocent little child, he dies, nothing the doctors do can help him. I’m sitting here and I watch Joe Snodgrass has machined gunned 8 people in Baltimore and he’s doing fine, but my little baby boy is dead. Is that the way God runs the universe? How do we handle that? The baby’s died, we’re all going to die, even Joe Snodgrass who machine guns 8 people, he’s going to die, too.
What’s this death deal? Aren’t we dealing with another instance of death? What does that lead to? Death—what is the biblical explanation for physical death. There’s a lot of stuff devoted to explaining why this comes about and what’s going to happen. Death started because of God or because of man? Were Adam and Eve created to die? You don’t read that in the text. Of course, those people believe it’s a myth, they say oh yea, it couldn’t happen that way. The moment you say it’s a myth and couldn’t happen that way you’ve just lost your whole solution to the baby dying of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Take your pick, which way do you want to go. If the Scriptures say that originally there was no death, and this baby is dying on me, what changed? What caused the change, what’s implicated in the change? Human responsibility, we’re blaming God. Excuse me, what did God say to Adam and Eve before they died? What was the warning, “in the day that you eat,” what’s going to happen? Eve doubted Him, she wanted to test to see, gee, does He really mean that? Yeah Babe, He did, now you die. She ran a great experiment. So we have death introduced.
There’s a second way of handling this. There can still be resentment and anger, because you can now think this thought: God allowed death to start, He allowed sickness to start, but He doesn’t have to wade through it and He doesn’t experience the pain like I do. Aha, anybody got a little antidote to that toxin? What’s the great biblical truth you can bring in every time you hear the thought, oh, God isn’t touched by this, He never has to walk around in this, He never experienced temptation like that. What biblical truth answers that? The incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. Again ask yourself, got another solution in any other religion. Did Allah incarnate himself? How many Eastern gods incarnated themselves and walked around? Only the God of the Bible, incarnate in Jesus Christ, not only was He tempted in all points as we are, but what else did He experience that we don’t? He experienced the wrath of God for sin for three hours on the cross. Any human pain can’t come close to what He suffered at that point in time. Is God touched by the feeling of our infirmities? What does Hebrews tell us? Oh, yes He is, because our God became man. Did He walk around in the muck? Yes He did. Only the biblical God gets dirt under His fingernails. Allah doesn’t, he stays up in heaven. Buddha doesn’t. Nobody’s dying for us, it’s only Jesus Christ that dies for us. So now we have a handle on this, and this has to be worked through.
My point in dealing with this problem is what biblical doctrines centrally apply? The whole issue of the source, origin, and responsibility for death. When you look at a baby dying or something like that, suffering, agonizing in his breathing, etc. suffocating, that is another illustration, “in the day that you eat thereof you will die;” obey Me and you won’t die. So we chose the way. Every time we see sickness, sorrow and heartache, just ask yourself who’s responsible, and never mind this business that God let it happen.
The second thing to remember is once it is in existence, who pursues us into the sewer, goes after us and pulls us back out, and is pierced to the heart by the pain of death? Do you see? This is the meat of Scripture; we don’t need a book on techniques to avoid mental depression. All we have to do is listen to the God of Scripture.
I want to get into the kingship issue. Turn to Genesis 14. Now we’re going to build up for understanding this whole David thing. David became the king of Israel, and 1 and 2 Samuel is a narrative of the adventures of getting there. We need to understand what the goal of David is, or God’s work in his life. David is going to become the king. In particular, he is called by the Hebrew word Mashach, to anoint; he is called the anointed king, from which we get “the Christ.” Christ is not Jesus last name, Christ is a title of the fact that He was anointed. [blank spot]
So everything in all the stories leads up to this. And it leads to a greater thing because David is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s what the story is in the history we are about to study and we want to start with understanding what a king looks like. The first king that is not evil (Nimrod is said to be the first king) but the first king that we really get a glimpse of in Scripture is the king that Abraham came to. We want to look at that king because we want to see that that king had certain things that he did. Genesis 14:17, after his return from defeat, Abraham had his armies out and he chased down the kidnappers of his relatives, he chased after the kings in verse 17, and in verse 18 he was met by this strange person.
Look carefully at verse 18, “And Melchizedek, king of Salem,” which we think is Jerusalem, “brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.” The thing you want to notice is that the original idea of king is that he is both king and priest, together; the same man holds those two offices, he mixes church and state, as it were.
That’s one of the features. We’re going to trace those two offices through the Samuel narratives to find out why David does what he does. We’re going to look at Saul, Saul got screwed up in these two offices, and part of Saul’s problem was he couldn’t keep them separate. Yet why, if God wants them together, why does he keep them separate, so there’s a mystery that goes on through these stories. So Melchizedek is a monotheist, verse 20, he believes in God Most High, he is saved, he is a man who, as a Gentile, was saved before Jesus Christ, he was saved because he believed that God Most High would save him by some means, apparently by blood because of the bread and wine, etc.
Melchizedek is a type of the kings that were to be in the sons and daughters of Noah. Noah is the author of our civilization, no matter what race you are, no matter what language you speak, no matter who’s your cousin, your genes came off the same boat. All of us came off the same boat; there was one family that led to civilization, if we believe the Scriptures. It wasn’t some monkey that gave us his banana, it was a family, civilized, intelligent, God-fearing people who got off the boat and proceeded to populate the earth. Interesting, presumably much of the racial diversity brought in by the four women on the boat, because obviously if the boys all the genes of daddy the variation of the human race probably came from the females that married the boys.
So we have a genetic selection from the antediluvian world; we have them in one family, and that family was to establish civilization on this planet. We said this family was geniuses, they lived 800-900 years, they didn’t have to write books, if you wanted to know what happened to Noah ask grandma, she was there. It was a short cycle in history. These people could navigate, they had developed a clock so they could measure longitude, they mapped the entire world, the entire continent was all mapped out. They left their mark because the same architecture that occurs in Africa also occurs in middle America, the pyramids. They left this pyramidal design everywhere they went. They left Semitic traces in the very structure of the human race, in the language forms. The human race was populated by these geniuses, and they were to be ruled by these king-priests. It was God’s office, the king and the priest taught the Word of God and he administered the sword of judgment. This is why he’s blessing Abraham; an act of justice has been done with Abraham, his army and his sword. So these men were to be God’s regents on earth. Of course, rapidly civilization deteriorated, you have Nimrod and the one-world government thing, etc. and you get into a situation of chaos.
Then you come to Israel, how Israel came out, Israel was called out to be a counterculture to this process. Turn to Judges, we come to the end of the conquest period and we have an interesting observation. Keep in mind Judges was written by a group of prophets after the fact, and it’s an analysis of history. In high school in social studies class I remember a teacher always used to make a big issue about who were the first historians, and she said Herodotus and Thucydides were the first historians. The teacher was giving us the usual secular idea that it was the Greeks that wrote history. Not true. Who wrote Judges? Not the Greeks, the Hebrews. And why did they write history, what did we say is the underlying idea of the structure of the Bible? Covenant structure. Why do you suppose the covenant idea made Jews history conscious? Think about the length, why would Jews be history conscious more than any other people? Because they’re checking on the behavior of the God who made the promises in the covenant. That’s what drove their passion to know history because history was His story. People’s eyes glaze over when you mention anything about history, because we’ve lost the idea of what history is all about. This is why kids don’t get motivated to study it. Why study it if it’s just a pile of marbles and you’re just going to burp out dates on the exam, burp it out, pass the exam and forget it. So if history is marbles then it’s not worth learning, but if history is God’s story you’d better know it, because it’s the way you know God, by knowing history.
The Judges are doing an analysis of what went wrong in the end of that conquest and settlement period. Going back to our time line period, a sequence of events, we are now down at the conquest and settlement. On a time scale what’s happened is this; we’ve gone along for a number of centuries, here’s the origin of civilization, the days of Noah, we go for 400-500 years of the most fantastic time in human history, there’s never been a time like that, never will be a time again when we have people who live six or seven centuries coexisting with people who lived only a century. We have the spectacle at the end of the 400 years after the Noahic flood of grandfathers who outlived their grandsons. Never before in history have we had anything like that.
Then four or five centuries after Noah all this entire generation died off, and this period of history now appears mythical to everyone who investigates it because it’s just unbelievable and incredible that this thing could happen, except for the objective fact that the continents were mapped before the ice age, except for the objective fact that somebody who was a genius in engineering and architecture built the pyramids, and except for the fact that the human race is united by this strange Semitic core to its language wherever you go. After this we have the rise of Nimrod, etc. this is all going on, civilization is going downhill spiritually, and we have Abraham called out in about the year 2000 BC. We are studying the period from 2000 BC to 1000 BC, and at the time of the Exodus it’s about half way through here, say 1500-1400 BC. So here we have the nation Israel, for three or four centuries they have the conquest, and then it peters out into a disaster. The nation falls apart, and the book of Judges is an analysis of why the nation Israel fell apart.
In Judges 17:6 is a refrain on this analysis, why did society collapse in the days of the Judges? There were some godly people, but the society collapsed, it lost its structure, it went into chaos, people were taken captive by the enemy, they lost their wars, they lost in battle, and they became captives and slaves. “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” Turn to Judges 21:25, the last verse of the book, this is the sobering conclusion of an analysis of 300 years of history. The analysis of the prophets is, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” Doesn’t that sound familiar? Everyone has their rights; nobody talks about the fact that we have to have some unity here too.
So we have anarchy. We said if you look at the flesh, every time when you deal with fallen flesh, whether it’s your own or someone else’s, or society at large, it always oscillates between two polls, what we call the chaos option, we’ll call that licentiousness, or a very rigid legalistic poll, which manifests in government as totalitarian regimes. This is chaos and anarchy; this would be totalitarianism. On an individual level this is licentiousness and this would be legalism. The flesh loves to oscillate back and forth, they can’t find a resting place because it gets crimped by rules and regulations, and we don’t like those, so we’re going to throw them off. So we throw them off and now we’re in chaos, and obviously you can’t tolerate chaos, after a while that gets old, so then you have to have a solution to chaos, so I go and now I’m going to be a legalist. And when I get tired of being a legalist then I’m going to go over here and try this one again. If you watch it, that’s exactly the story of the flesh; that’s exactly the story of the nation Israel.
What had happened by 300 years after the entrance into the land, the nation had gone from a position where under God, here’s God as king, God was the actual king, and the nation was under God. Instead of choosing this position, they chose this position. So now the pendulum is going to swing, and you can tell it in the analysis of the book of Judges, that the analysts, the prophetic analysts of history are saying we’ve got to solve this one; we cannot let this nation fall apart, so we’re going to bring in the monarchy. And they’re speaking through the power of the Holy Spirit. So now we have the debate over the rise of the monarchy, and this is quite a debate. We want to look at a few other passages. The first one is Deuteronomy 17, inside the Mosaic Law Code there was a provision for a king, even though he wasn’t required, there was a provision for the king. This is a classic passage. There are so many classic passages we’re going to be covering, without political implications, I don’t want to get off on the politics, but I can’t help the fact, like we got into geology, astronomy, physics, biology, anthropology, and other things, the Bible touches every area, we’re going to get into some political ideas. Deuteronomy 17 is one major passage for political philosophy in the Scripture, a crucial passage that applies to politics. This was the provision for a powerful leader in the nation. Watch.
Deuteronomy 17:14-20 “When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are round me,  you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.” So verse 15 answers the appeal of verse 14. The interplay for the next four weeks is going to be between verse 14 and 15. Verse 14 is the demand of the people, they are tired of chaos, they are tired of society falling apart; they want centralized leadership and powerful and strong leadership. But God says you watch it, when you get into this oscillation between chaos and totalitarianism I am entering, and I’m telling you something, you just don’t pick any person to be that strong leader, you pick the one I chose. Notice how God interferes with the process. Verse 15 dooms democratic theory; we’ll get into democracy, monarchy and aristocracy. There are good elements to these, but democracy has limits. God did not let the democratic thrust of verse 14 override His sovereign thrust of verse 15. He stepped in.
Then it says I will further restrict the king,  Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.  Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.’” Who violated that? Solomon. And who had a problem? Solomon.  “Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom,” look at this is phenomenal, verse 18-19, this is phenomenal political idea. “Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.  And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing the words of this law and these statutes,  that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandments, to the right or the left; in order that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.”
The human king, the human office that is about to be created in history, the monarchy of Israel through whom Jesus Christ will come, this has control; from the very start there were controls on this, this was not to be a monarchy like the other nations.
I’m going to conclude by looking at the notes, I’ve given you some notes about kings that the other nations have and we want to contrast these other kings. There are two quotes I want to look at. On page 99, here’s what the political thinking was in the time of the Bible. Please understand that when you read the Bible you’ve got to transport yourself as best you can into the mindset of the people that lived at the time the Scriptures were written. If you do, you will be richly rewarded. Here’s the mindset of the people in that day and age. “The ancient Near East considered kingship the very basis of civilization. Only savages could live without a king. Security, peace, justice could not prevail without a king to champion them. If ever a political institution functioned with the assent of the governed, it was the monarchy which built the pyramids with forced labor and drained the Assyrian peasantry by ceaseless wars …. Whatever was significant was imbedded in the life of the cosmos, and it was precisely the king’s function to maintain the harmony of that integration.”
I showed these two archeological depictions of the king, there are three figures the Egyptian artist has drawn, Pharaoh is the middle one, on the left of Pharaoh are the gods. Who’s taller? That’s a political tract, see what that’s saying, that may look like flaky art to us, but we have three figures, the middle one is the Pharaoh, that is a statement of Pharaoh’s power, he stands up there with the gods. That’s what that statement is saying. That’s the view of the king, that’s the kind of king they were crying for at the end of the period of the Judges; give us a king like all the other nations, one who stands with the gods. Of course, in one sense our king does stand with God, THE king.
So you can see this has prophetic overtones. This is a typical column in an Egyptian temple. On that column in hieroglyphics is written a message. The message in the name of a Pharaoh, it precedes from top to bottom and on either side of the name it looks from your perspective that there’s a vertical line drawn there, but if you come up closer you’ll see it’s not a line, it stops here and ends here, in a little shepherd’s crook, same thing on the other line, it ends here with a shepherd’s crook pulling in. That symbol, that line, is a picture of welfare and peace, and shalom, and it’s saying that it connects the earth and the heavens, there’s the sun at the top, there’s the earth down below, the mediator between heaven and earth is the Pharaoh. He is civilization. Such is the totalitarian power. And this is why Dr. Frankfort says they could get “pyramids with forced labor” and they could build armies and kill people by the hundreds of thousands and they’d have volunteers tomorrow, because the people realized that this king was the only salvation they had.
Just to give the flavor of the conflict that’s going to occur in this text as we go on, “The Hebrew king normally functioned in the profane sphere, not in the sacred sphere. He was the arbiter in disputes and the leader in war. He was emphatically not the leader in the cult…. He did not, as a rule, sacrifice; that was the task of the priests. He did not interpret the divine will; that, again, was the task of the priests …. Moreover, the divine interventions were sometimes made known in a more dramatic way when the prophets…cried, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ These prophets” get a load of this, underline it, a critical sentence here, “These prophets were often in open conflict with the king precisely because the secular character of the king entitled them to censor him…. The transcendentalism of Hebrew religion prevented kingship from assuming the profound significance which it possessed in Egypt and Mesopotamia ….”
What are we saying in a nutshell? God’s Word limits political authority. God’s Word stands over against political authority. That doesn’t set well with the world. That’s why the first Christians of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, many of our brothers and sisters, were thrown to the lions. It wasn’t because they were evil people, it wasn’t because they took up arms against Rome, it more simple than that. The Caesar could not tolerate any citizen of the Roman Empire daring to say that he believed in Creos Jeshu, the Caesar in heaven whose name is Jesus. That was considered to be the highest insult to any political authoritarian in that day and age, and that’s why they threw the Christians to the lions, they couldn’t stand allegiance on the part of people to somebody higher than they, and it puts steel in your backbones, and it has down through the centuries.
This is what has enabled Christians to stand up to totalitarianism everywhere it goes. This is why the church has never succumbed to totalitarian government anywhere. It’s submerged by it for a while, but it always breaks out. There is not a ruler in history that has ever broken the church. The Chinese, one of the biggest coup regimes on earth today, are doing their best to eradicate the Christians. One pastor who was 76 years old, who they let out of jail recently, who now holds a worship service in his house right down from the place where the government is, he was recently interviewed by Cal Thomas and Cal Thomas asked him, how is that you, a 76 year old broken and ill health Chinaman can stand up against a regime that is probably going to become the world’s greatest military power. And he said, it’s very simple, the authorities in China learned that when I was in jail and being tortured the church grew faster than when I am outside of the jail.
Question asked: Clough replies: What he’s pointing out is that you can extend the implications, the first implication is the covenant idea shows you that the historical details of the Scripture are not superfluous, the historical details are there because God the Holy Spirit … think of it for a minute, 300 years of history are collapsed in one book that we call Judges. Do you think that the book of Judges has anywhere near the coverage of those three centuries, all the details that went on? No. Judges is a selection of a very small subset of all the details that went on in those 300 years. But we have to trust that the Holy Spirit who worked that book into existence through the prophets saw fit to memorialize the events that He did record so that they are sufficient evidence to show God was faithful to do that which He had promised in the covenant. The covenant has future implications. If God has a promise and it has not yet been fulfilled, then it has to be fulfilled does it not. One of the big debates we’re going to get into is the issue of the millennium and the promises to Israel, the land promise, are they true or are they not? Has Israel ever conquered all the land? The answer is no. If Israel hasn’t conquered the land and by Judges 2, the Bochim incident, where he said I’m not going to drive the enemies out any more, either God forsook the original command, the promise that He was going to bring them into the land, or He’s going to do it another way.
So an unfulfilled promise inside the covenant implies future fulfillment. This is why we have to accept literal interpretation of the covenants. You don’t go to your real estate covenant and say I’m supposed to pay the guy $40,000 but in the spirit of it that’s not really right; I’m going to spiritualize the interpretation. You know what would happen to any contractor who spiritualized the interpretation, but yet theologians do this all the time to the covenants that are in the Scriptures. That’s why we have to be careful, when God said that out of Judah, that the king, the godly king was supposed to come out of one tribe, Judah, and the mystery is then why was Saul picked. What tribe was Saul in? The tribe of Benjamin. Wait a minute, how can the Messianic king be coming out of Benjamin? It turns out he doesn’t. Then David, who is of the tribe of Judah, he succeeds Saul, then you have to notice that “my Spirit will not depart” from David like it did from Saul. What’s God doing here, it’s almost like He’s misfiring the first king. The first king is like a square peg in a round hole, it doesn’t work out. God does this sometimes. Who picked Judas for a disciple? Jesus did. Did Jesus not know what He was doing? Why did Jesus go ahead and pick Judas for a disciple? He knew in His omniscience as God what was going to happen, but He picked him anyway. As late as the night before He was betrayed He took the bread and who did He give it to first, showing His extreme grace, that at that very 11th hour He was welcoming Judas to come and trust Him.
You see some powerful hard to understand things about our God, and how He works, but the thing of it is, as you read your Scriptures and watch history you’ll see Him do it again and again and it gives you confidence. You say I don’t understand why God works this way but I know enough of history to know that is how He works: strange ways. So these are the things you want to pick up, so all these stories, I guess I’m trying to lay ground work here because so many times all us have been introduced to these stories piecemeal, we’ve gone to a Sunday School class, we read about David and Goliath, we read about something else, we have a story here and a story there, and a story over there, and we don’t put these stories together to see what the big story is all about. That’s what we want to do here; we’re not going to spend time on the details. I presume that you will read Samuel quickly, don’t worry about the details, read through it to get the flow, then we’ll talk about details as it pertains to the big picture.
Question asked: Clough replies: The question is how do you generalize the principles that were given in a context, that promise, if “My people who are called by My name will humble themselves … and call upon My name,” etc. was given by prophets, and they were addressing Jews, and it was a covenantal thing that was going on… and you know what that promise is built on, it’s the Sinaitic Covenant, and it’s referring to Deuteronomy 28, Leviticus 26, that’s the background theologically for that promise, but the way you bring those principles over to apply at large, you have to go back to God and think of in this country when we have, say, one President, one administration succeeds another, and let’s make it a hundred year difference. Let’s contrast the presidency of Abraham Lincoln with the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, there’s some strong parallels there, but let’s just say we have that hundred year gap. Let’s suppose by some sort of weird time mechanism that Abraham Lincoln reincarnates as Franklin D. Roosevelt, so we have the same guy but he’s separated; both of them have to lay forth administration, both of them have to have an administration of principles, laws, and regulations. Let’s suppose we look at what happened in the 1860’s, were there rules against theft, rape, were there rules on property, yes. We come down to the 1960’s, were there rules against theft, rape, etc. Do you see what I’m saying?
So between these two there were differences, things over here weren’t in this policy and things in this policy weren’t over here, but there are certain common things. Just by virtue of the fact that you had that common person who was president in both cases in this illustration, so God is also the Creator of the Noahic civilization, He’s the Creator and King of Israel, He is the Lord of the Church, He’s the same one. So where you have what we’ll call the general ethical principles that carry over, not because of the covenant structure, the particular covenant structure but because of the One who makes the covenant, makes His covenants very similar. Thus we have the Noahic Covenant carrying forward the institution of government, carrying forward the institution embedded in human conscience that Paul refers to. Paul indicts the Gentile world not for violating the Mosaic Covenant, the indictment against any Gentile non-Jew is given in Romans 1 and it consists of one sin after another. What right does Paul have to prosecute the Gentile who has not the law with all those sins that he mentions in Romans 1? Because he must be going back to the basis of the Noahic Covenant which honors conscience in the pre-Noahic conscience dispensation. That becomes, because we’re made in God’s image, the same kind of holiness that is manifested over here in the Mosaic Law, except the Mosaic Law has special features in it, it has the land promise, it has the temple, it has dietary things, etc.
So there are certain things about the Mosaic Law Code. The application and transfer of biblical principles from the Mosaic Covenant over is called the sphere of wisdom, and that’s why the wisdom passages of the Bible, books like Proverbs, and in the Hebrew canon Daniel is a book of wisdom, not a book of prophecy, which almost blows my mind when I think of that, why on earth is the book of Daniel written and the Hebrews consider that a wisdom book rather than a prophetic book. Do you know why? What function did Daniel do? What was he living as, what function did Daniel perform in society, and how would that manifest … what would we call Daniel today? He functioned in what is now Iraq and Iran as one of the foreign ministers, one of the political advisers. Therefore how is a political adviser to be wise? Daniel gave wise advice to the leaders of Iraq and Iran based on what God was doing in history, not to Israel but what God was doing in history at large. That’s how he could be a high authoritarian inside the administration of the kings of Iraq and Iran. He did so because he knew the way history was going.
So you can’t escape God and His character and His laws, they always show up somewhere. What you have to be careful of is, as was stated, you can’t just naïvely say this was given to Israel, therefore this applies to the United States. Not necessarily so. A good example, the Sabbath day and the sixth day, does the economy shut down in America on the sixth day? Should it shut down on the sixth day, is that given in the New Testament for the church? Not that I know of. It was given to Israel, and it was a sign of the Sinaitic Covenant, that the One who made the Sinaitic Covenant is the One who rested on the seventh day. The One who rested on the seventh day was the creator of the earth. So there are these features, and that’s always given Christians problems.
I don’t profess to have the total answer. I’ll give you an example, I have a book by a man who researched a lot of the wisdom principles of the Mosaic Law Code, you can look up any legislative question in that book and he directs you to the Mosaic Law Code and addresses that issue. There are principles, and we are silly not to apply those wherever we can. We just have to be careful because of the church and state issue, and other things that we get into.
Question asked: Clough replies: In the Bible some of the covenants are single party covenants and some are two party covenants, and that’s the other thing that we are going to get into in the Davidic covenant. Think about the covenants, the unconditional covenants are the Noahic Covenant, Noah didn’t volunteer anything, no obligations on Noah. What is the Noahic Covenant really about? What God is going to do, period! That’s what we call a unilateral covenant. I don’t distinguish covenant and contract that way, I just say covenant is equal to contract but there are two kinds of contracts. There’s this unconditional covenant, and by the way, the second one, after Noah is the Abrahamic Covenant, there were some conditions of response like circumcision, etc. but basically the Abrahamic Covenant promised three things. Did it say maybe these are going to happen, or did it say these will happen? It said these will happen. Now we know in the nature of the case that they can’t happen without human response, so when God says they’re going to happen, He includes there’s going to be a human response to that, that’s why it’s very powerful election sovereignty implications to these unilateral covenants, because in effect they’re decreeing the way history is going to go. And yet we know as history unfolds people willingly choose. The third unconditional covenant is one we didn’t cover, which is the Palestinian Covenant, which says that Israel is going to get the land period, seemingly in contradiction to Judges 2 which says I’m not going to drive out the enemies from the land.
And then we’re going to the Davidic Covenant, the covenant that says the Davidic dynasty will reign forever in history, it will never be eradicated. The nations can come and they can go, but David will always be king. What does that mean? How do you have an eternal dynasty out of the genes of David? So that’s an unconditional covenant, it doesn’t say anything about David’s sons; it just says I will give you a seed that will reign forever and ever over all the nations. There’s the Davidic Covenant. The Sinaitic Covenant is different, because the Sinaitic Covenant is truly conditional, it says “if” you do these things, then I will bless you, and if you do not do those things I will curse you. There’s no hope in the Sinaitic Covenant in the sense there is in the Abrahamic Covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant tells you what in fact is going to happen. The Sinaitic Covenant only tells you it will happen if, so we say that’s a conditional covenant.
As you read 1 Samuel 12, Samuel makes a very specific address about what went wrong with Saul, and he harps back to the Sinaitic Covenant, you’ll see the language, he doesn’t say I’m going back to the law of Moses, but you’ll know once you read it where he’s getting it from, and he says the whole Saul dynasty is a conditional dynasty. “If” Saul behaves, then we will have the monarchy saved, and “if” Saul disobeys and you people don’t go along with Me, I’ll get rid of you and your king. Where’s that coming from? The cursing sections of the Mt. Sinaitic Covenant. There’s no assurance there, if God tells me, Charles, I can bless you if you do this and I’m going to curse you if you do that, that kind of clarifies the issue for me, but that really doesn’t give me any stunning hope for the future because I don’t know what Charles is going to do. On the other hand, if God says Charles, I’m going to get you from point A to point B, and I look upon it as sort of the Marine drill sergeant talking to the recruits, you will be Marines in 8 weeks. Now is that great assurance? Yes, but any fool knows what’s involved, what’s going to happen, there’s a little process involved in getting there. That’s the kind of thing when God sovereignly promises. We have the attitude that nothing’s going to happen to me, no, no, no, if God promises He’s going to get us in shape for eternity, it means, just like the drill sergeant in the Marines, we’re going to be hauled through the process.
So in one sense it’s not comforting. It’s hope because we know finally it’s going to come to pass, but it’s sort of like going in for surgery. You may have the greatest surgeon in the world, but it’s not a thrilling thing to have somebody cut you open. That’s what the Christian life is about, God is cutting open our flesh and He’s doing surgery; it’s not too nice at times, for Him to do that, but we can tolerate the surgery if we know the outcome is going to be okay. That’s how the sovereignty of God interplays with the human being. The sovereignty of God will never be stopped, it’s just you never can detach the sovereignty of God from the means. As a professor I once had said, no matter how hyper the Calvinist is, he chooses to eat three times a day. So that’s the point, we believe in the absolute sovereignty of God, but that belief does not eradicate the responsibility …